Issa Rae’s new comedy Insecure is anything but self-conscious.
This is a series by a Black woman for Black women filled with authentic relationships and relatable dialogue. The heroine in this addictive tale is just as uncomfortable as the character Rae played on her hit web series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.
But when Insecure premieres Sunday on HBO, viewers will discover a world of confidence, depth and maturity unexplored in its digital predecessor. Here are five reasons to watch.
The relationships: When cultural commentators accuse Insecure of perpetuating the single black female character trope, it’s apparent they haven’t seen this show. HBO screened the first six episodes for critics and Issa and her bestie Molly (Yvonne Orji) have a fiercely loyal and honest bond akin to those found on Girlfriends, Sex and the City and Girls. Romantically, Issa lives with her unemployed but well-intentioned boyfriend of five years, Lawrence (Jay Ellis, The Game), and flirts with a sexy ex from her past, Daniel (Y’lan Noel). She works at an education non-profit and often worries that her life has stalled professionally and personally. Molly, on the other hand, is a successful lawyer who struggles to find the man of her dreams on various dating apps. Although Issa and Molly get discouraged, they never come across as bitter or jilted.
The location: Los Angeles’ predominately Black neighborhoods such as Inglewood, Baldwin Hills and South L.A. play an integral part on Insecure. As Rae recently told reporters at a Television Critics Association panel, there is more to South Central than gang violence.
“The way that Entourage made Hollywood and Beverly Hills sexy, we want to do the same thing with Southern L.A.,” the 31-year-old Los Angeles native said. Executive producer Prentice Penny also hails from the City of Angels. “It’s just so rich with culture,” Rae said, “and it’s extremely diverse, and it’s something that we know well and want to present in the best light possible.”
The culture: Hip-hop, soul music and slang terms are prominently used on Insecure so get ready to hear phrases like “How Sway?” and tunes such as Thundercat’s “Them Changes” and TT the Artist’s “Lavish.” Raphael Saadiq composed the show’s music and Solange acted as a musical consultant. As for dialogue, most of the characters unapologetically throw around the “N” word and the “B” word and the episode titles all end in “af,” or “as f***.” Issa often talks and raps to herself and at least one character does the Dab. In other words, if you are in your 20s or know people who are, the dialogue and swagger are authentically Black and pro millennial. Although the friendships are similar to those on Girls, no one could ever accuse Issa or Molly of being entitled or sheltered. Molly, Issa and most of the characters on this show are strivers.
The subjects matter: Slang terms aside, Issa, Molly and their small circle of upwardly mobile friends have the most relatable conversations and concerns. They talk about everything from the men they love to their culturally ignorant white co-workers to bisexuality, marriage and interracial relationships.
The perspective: Most importantly, although this show comes from a viewpoint rarely explored on television – young, successful Black people in Los Angeles – this comedy proves that everybody feels a little insecure sometimes.
Insecure premieres Sunday Oct. 9 at 10:30 pm ET on HBO.